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How To Identify A Chinch Bug Infestation

June 24, 2014


The South Florida summer is here, and along with the intense heat and high humidity come chinch bugs.  The summer months in South Florida are the peak growing months.  Your lawn, trees, shrubs, and palms should be looking their best this time of year because of the full sunshine and increased precipitation.  But sometimes, even if it seems you’re doing everything right, you still get some brown spots patched throughout your lawn.  It may look like drought spots, but it’s the rainy season!   If you live in the south and have St. Augustine grass or zoysiagrass, you could be hosting a whole troop of chinch bugs.

Chinch bugs are a pest insect common throughout much of the United States.  Derived from the Spanish “Chinche,”, their name can literally translate to “nuisance.”  They can be very damaging to ornamental grasses and plants, and can devastate entire lawns.  Though they can be found in many states, they prefer a lot of sunlight and many kinds of grass that are native to Florida, specifically St. Augustine grass.  If you were looking for a perfect environment for this pest, Florida would be it.  This can make them especially troublesome for Florida home and business owners.  For this reason, chinch bug control is especially important for the health of your lawn.

The first step to chinch bug control is finding out if you have them.  The damage they cause looks a lot like drought damage, with dry brown spots appearing in lawns.  As their population grows, the spots spread out, and will eventually consume the entire yard and neighborhood.  The insects themselves are easily recognizable but can be hard to see in the grass, so other methods for identification are helpful.  An adult chinch bug has a black body with wings that fold flat on its back.  Their wings are mostly shiny white with a little bit of black in the middle of the outer edge of each wing, giving the appearance of an ‘X’ on their backs.

A popular do it yourself way to identify chinch bugs is the “can method.”  Cut both ends off of a tin can, and push one end of the can about an inch into the suspected area of infestation.  Fill the can with soapy water, and keep it filled for about ten minutes.  Insects in the grass will float to the surface, making it easier to identify them.  Chinch bugs can be difficult to identify by sight, and look different at various stages of their lifecycle.  If you suspect an infestation, it may be best to have one of the friendly pest and lawn control experts here at Nozzle Nolen come take a look.

If an infestation does exist, it may be necessary to use chemical treatments to eliminate the colony.  Liquid or pelletized lawn chemicals can help kill off chinch bugs, interrupt their breeding cycle, or otherwise drive them away.  Knowing what type of treatment to use, and how much to use at a given time isn’t always easy.  Over-treating can damage the lawn, or present a health hazard to pets and children.  Under-treatment can fail to eliminate the infestation, and leave the remaining colony more resistant to the chemical treatments. Again, one of our experts can help you determine what treatment you need, and how much of it to use.

An untreated chinch infestation can wipe out entire lawns in a matter of weeks.  What appears to be a small colony can quickly grow out of control once warm, sunny weather hits.  Getting ahead of the problem, and then staying ahead of it, isn’t always easy.  Proper identification, maintenance, and treatment take time, training, and experience.  Mistakes along the way can lead to more damage to your lawn, and allow the colony to increase its numbers and further damage your grass and plants.  If you have growing brown spots in your yard, and watering isn’t solving the problem, there’s a good chance you have a chinch bug colony.  We make figuring that out easy with our free evaluation. Contact us today and request a free evaluation and get on the road to a healthy and lush green lawn.


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